Crowdsourcing with the members of Xerox Nederland
2011 – At Xerox, the Executive Board and the Works Council are working together to find solutions. Paul-Peter Feld (Director HR & Organization) and John van den Muijsenberg (chairman of the Works Council) state provocatively that they no longer negotiate. In an interview with OR information (a Dutch national magazine for Works Council members) Feld and Van den Muijsenberg discuss the innovative form of participation at Xerox: ensuring greater involvement of the employees by crowdsourcing.
Co-creation instead of negotiation
If you read the book Shared Leadership (Gedeeld Leiderschap) by Paul-Peter Feld and Jelle Dijkstra it becomes clear that we are dealing with an unusual manager and partner of the Works Council. This is also evident from the participation at Xerox. “Negotiation presupposes that two parties are facing each other, where the gain of one party goes at the expense or the other. In a socially innovative company such as Xerox, this approach does not fit" says Van den Muijsenberg. At Xerox the shareholder’s interest will not go at the expense of the interests of the employees. According to Feld, the challenges in these times are too large to think antagonistically. They call working together on solutions ‘co-creation’.
A concrete example of co-creation are the latest negotiations about employment conditions. Together they looked at the best possible package for the employees. The Works Council and Board of directors jointly arranged the working conditions. The unions did not participate directly. However, there is a member of the union in the Works Council, which has no problem with this procedure according to the chair of the Works Council. “the outcome of the negotiations is what counts, the result." By participation of the Works Council, the employees can be involved easily. Feld: “You can see this as a form of crowdsourcing. The Works Council serves as a platform for the ideas of the workplace." This is reinforced by the traditional Works Councils publication of each quarter, as well as by the use of social media.
Changes in dialogue
Of course, in the beginning the parties had to get used to each other practicing this new form of participation. The Works Council and the Director had to help each other in mastering the terminology of the other. “In addition, you have to dare to speak up and say the truth to each other. Changes proceed in dialogue and never stop", says Feld.
The full article Crowd Sourcing together with the employees: Works Council and Board of Directors of Xerox Netherlands negotiate no more (2011) (Crowdsourcen met de achterban: OR en directie Xerox Nederland onderhandelen niet meer) by J. Janssen in Works Council Information (a Dutch magazine) is attached.